National Cathedral School ignores alleged torturer on board of governors

By | October 4, 2022
Washington National Cathedral

The National Cathedral School (NCS) is everything you’d expect from a prestigious Episcopal school. It sits on the grounds of the National Cathedral, has first-rate physical facilities, and caters to the daughters of the wealthy. It’s also a bastion of hypocrisy, thanks to its Board of Governors, which includes David Ayres, who appears to be one of the owners and CFO of the company that taught American personnel how to deploy “enhanced interrogation techniques,” widely regarded as torture, during the so-called war on terror.

Predictably, the school has a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, program. As fitting for a school charging $50,675 in annual tuition, the school’s DEI program includes not one, but five staff members. The program is headed up by Loris Adams, who holds the title of “Head of DEI, Ethical Leadership.”

So what’s involved in DEI? The school explains:

Diversity asks, “Who is in the room? What identities are represented here?,” while equity investigates who in the room has power and access to share their voices. Inclusion requires that we provide equal access to opportunities and resources so that each community member feels a sense of belonging.

That begs the questions: If someone engages in torture, are they entitled to an equal seat at the table? Can we define complicity as asking, “How can I ignore the torture going on in the room?” If we ignore torture, are we ethical leaders? Can we even count ourselves as Christians?

Apparently the answer is a resounding yes, as the school has long been aware of the allegations about Ayres. Indeed, more than a month ago, Anglican Watch contacted the head of school for comment about Ayres’ role at the school. No response. Ditto for questions directed to Bishop Mariann Budde, who serves as chair and president of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, which oversees the ministries of the Washington National Cathedral and Cathedral schools. Same for the school’s media contact and Adams, head of the DEI program. In other words, there is no possibility that the apparatchiks in EDOW have not been alerted to the issue. Indeed, we even hit up Ian Markham, referenced below. Crickets.

To be clear, we are not denying that David Ayres is made in the image of the divine. Same for his wife and daughter; the latter attended NCS. But being made in the image of the divine does not give one a pass to allegedly train people to engage in torture. Nor does it eliminate the requirement of accountability. Neither would we recommend being alone in a room with someone whose conscience allows him or her to benefit from the suffering of others; the word “sociopath” comes to mind. And we categorically reject accepting money derived from the suffering of others, whether via slavery, child abuse, sharecropping, exploitative labor conditions, drugs, pornography, organized crime, prostitution, or torture.

So what message does Ayres’ role at the school send? Anglican Watch believes it sends the message that if you have the money, you can do whatever you damned well please, with no consequences. In other words, it’s all about the Golden Rule—the person with the gold makes the rules.

Of course, that message flies in the face of Episcopal theology, with its focus on the Baptismal Covenant and respecting the dignity of every human being.

Nor are the Ayres themselves setting any sort of positive example.

Indeed, even as the Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean of Virginia Theological Seminary and priest associate at the Ayres’ home parish of St. Paul’s Alexandria and the other hypocrites babble on about ending racism and making restitution, we see no sign that the Ayres are going to practice what they preach. They have made no effort to disgorge any of their allegedly ill-gotten gains and make restitution to torture victims and their families.

We also note the numerous documented deaths of detainees in American custody, with hypothermia and sleep deprivation listed as causes of death and included among the tactics allegedly part of the training provided by the Ayres’ company. Anglican Watch is prepared to bet that being tortured to death warrants seven-figure restitution — unless, of course, folks in the church are going to try to pull a Bhopal and claim that the lives of persons in other countries are worth less.

As for assertions that the ends justify the means, spare us. Not only is torture useless in terms of obtaining useful intelligence, but Christians from across the spectrum reject the notion. Except perhaps Episcopalians.

So, it’s not just members of St. Paul’s Alexandria who need to consider their role in tacitly approving of torture and murder. It’s Bishop Mariann Budde, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the National Cathedral, and the National Cathedral School, all of whom have some serious soul searching to do. Nor has the school made any effort to return funds allegedly derived from torture.

So what next? Donations from the KKK? Westboro Baptist? Neo-Nazis? Do they all get a seat at the table? Should folks of this ilk have a role in the governance of Episcopal organizations? If the National Cathedral School can welcome an alleged torturer, why not?

In fact, it might be a step up. To date, we have heard no allegations that members of Westboro Baptist train people on how to torture people.

In other words, the Episcopal Church at every level is complicit in torture and possibly murder.  “As you have done to the least of these, so also have you done unto me.”

Meanwhile parents and students at the National Cathedral School must decide if they want to be associated with allegations of torture and murder. These are allegations that were sent directly to Anne and David Ayres for comment and ignored, so it seems likely these allegations are accurate.

As for us, we will take a pass, thank you. And with Halloween coming and the haunted tours of Old Town Alexandria under way, we wonder whether the ghosts of those tortured to death haunt St. Paul’s Episcopal and the Ayres’ multi-million dollar home in Old Town.


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His Anglican Majesty Stinkbomb

And We do hereby Declare and Decree, in this, the Year of Our Lord 2022, that all who declare this issue to be minor, hyperventilating, or shall otherwise minimize torture of My Most Worthy Subjects, are declared Heathens and Infidels and shall be driven from Our Presence. Moreover, such persons are Hearby Declared Assholes of the Highest Order, condemned to Eternal Perdition, and to be exiled from Our Realms.

Stink R

In other words, kiss my ass and don’t call yourselves Christians.